Irish energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2.2% in 2017, showing a further decoupling of economic growth from carbon emissions. Modified domestic demand (the new measure of economic activity) grew by 3.9% while energy use grew by only 0.2%. The figures were published in the SEAI report “Energy-Related CO2 Emissions in Ireland, 2005-2016” which reports on CO2 emissions from fuel combustion.
One significant contributor to the fall in emissions was the change in fuel mix in electricity generation which saw a reduction in coal (-21%) and peat (-6.4%) and a substantial increase in renewables (+18%). As a result, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production dropped by nearly 10%. In 2017, 30% of our electricity came from renewables, with the vast majority of that coming from wind. This is the third highest share of electricity demand from wind in the EU and more than double the EU average. Early indications from 2018 would suggest that wind energy’s contribution to decarbonisation has continued to grow.
Using renewable energy for heat, electricity and transport resulted in avoiding the emissions of 4.2 million tonnes carbon dioxide (MtCO2). This equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of almost three-quarters of our cars (1.4m cars). The DCCAE mandated an increase in the use of sustainable fuel blending in our petrol and diesel. This has meant that although transport-related energy use grew by a large amount, there was a much lesser growth in transport-related emissions. In addition, there was a reduction in emissions from our building stock due to increases in building standards and the ongoing retrofit programmes operated by SEAI for both homes and commercial property.
The full text of the SEAI report is available for download here.